Cynthia's Reviews > The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft

The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
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Mar 15, 2009

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bookshelves: books-read-in-2009, art-nonfiction
Read in March, 2009

Several iconic paintings were stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990 and they've never been recovered nor the perpetrators caught. At least they were not caught for this crime. I still can't quite get past the thieves cutting the paintings from their frames! Dang it if you're gonna heist something beautiful at least treat it with respect. I'd always assumed art was well protected and that when it was stolen it was stolen for or by someone who craved and treasured it. Boser says this is not true. Until recently museums did not have the funds or maybe even inclination to guard their works with state of the art security measures. Also, often the underworld, not art connoisseurs, steal it and they do so to use as currency to buy arms or drugs. I also suppose they don't know how to store it properly. The Gardner art was easy to steal but it hasn't been easy to catch the thieves. Many people, both law officials and independents, tracked down many leads. In fact there are so many suspects that it's hard to keep all the players straight. For all I know you and I are also suspects and I'm not 100% certain you're in the clear. For the most part Boser does a good job of explaining the evidence. It feels petty to mention this but there are a disconcerting number of typos in this book.....words left out or words stuck in that don't belong. It was distracting. I enjoyed the last chapter where Boser speculates and tries to make sense of this crime. What a loss that the Vermeer and the Rembrandt's have been lost possibly for good.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia "For all I know you and I are also suspects and I'm not 100% certain you're in the clear." You're so funny. Great review. Sounds like a frustrating read on many levels. We were at the Gardner a few months ago, first visit, great museum, and there are still blank spots on the walls, like a wound that won't heal. It's funny, they always seem able to trace MONEY and that's the same photos on every bill, but works of art that are unique, they can't find those??? I guess those art thieves are pretty smart; and I guess that's why we are so intrigued by them. Dagnabit.

Cynthia Gardner put in her will that nothing in the museum could be changed....ever. That's why they've left it as it is. According the the book, contrary to popular myth, it's not smart, art conniseurs who steal art but petty thieves who know nothing about Art and value it only as a commodity to buy drugs are weapons.

message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I really think you're going to like Pictures at an Exhibition! The thieves in that book are thuggy Nazis, esp Hitler and Goering. You'll cringe as they burn thousands of Modern paintings. Auggggggh. It also, like you say, takes some of the glamour off the art world and makes these collector/dealers seem... shady and overly obsessed but not in a good way.

Cynthia I ordered it yesterday....actually i'd been reading the reviews (mixed) for awhile and hemming and hawing about reading it. The Hoving's been in my wishlist for quite some time.

message 5: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I snagged the Hoving at a booksale for just a couple bucks (score!). It's great. It's funny, i haven't read the other reviews yet on the Houghteling, I'll go read them, am interested to see what people didn't like.

Cynthia I never read other review until I've written my own.

I'd be interested in what you think after you've read the other review though.


message 7: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I think they made valid points. The plot IS a little weak at points, and it does end abruptly and unconvincingly. But I guess I was more willing than the other reviewers to overlook those (admittedly significant) problems cause I liked it so much. Love... as always, so blind. : )

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